Analysts open up on when this window will slam shut

Jun 01, 2008 | 12:44 PM |

Steel industry analysts have been impressed with the move by U.S. steelmakers to take advantage of favorable export conditions, but most warn that the window of opportunity to export steel at a significant profit likely won't remain open for long.

"It's something that could go more than a year, but I would not say it would last as much as two years," said Aldo Mazzaferro, steel industry analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York. "How long these opportunities last really depends on the strength of the dollar and on the global price differential. It's kind of rare for U.S. prices to be below global pricing, but that is the situation you have and the mills are taking advantage."

Figures from the U.S. Commerce Department show just how much advantage mills are trying to gain. U.S. mills exported a record 11.1 million tons in 2007, up 15 percent from 9.6 million tons in 2006, 17 percent ahead of 9.4 million tons in 2005 and 40 percent more than the 2004 total of 7.9 million tons. Thus far in 2008, exports are averaging a little more than 1 million tons a month, which means if they remain at that pace they will total a record 12-million to 13-million tons this year.....

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